Saddleback Leather Large Bifold vs Ashland Leather Fat Herbie veg tan essex and cxl

Dec 4, 2013
Good Afternoon Everyone,

The reason behind my doing this review, was that when I was searching for a fairly definitive answer on this exact subject, there really wasn't any information to make or break my decision on Saddleback's Large Bifold or Ashland Leather's Fat Herbie. So, what was a guy to do? obviously, go out and buy the SBL Large Bifold as well as the Fat Herbie ( cxl brown and essex natural).

So here we go:
Saddleback Leather Large Bifold in tobacco
First Impressions: nice size, thick leather, amazing smell. Incredibly stiff pockets, single lined pigskin bill compartment, no cash flap. Definitely different from the other iterations of "tobacco" i had received in the past. This version of tobacco is smooth, sort of wrinkly, you can see the stretchmarks, and a few bug bits on this wallet. My previous versions were more "suede" like, where as you ran your finger over it, the nap of the leather would be lighter or darker. The smooth non suede feel is my preference, I feel it will patina very well.

Loading it up- 2 picture IDs, 1 debit card, 1 credit card, 1 gift card, AAA Card and 2 medical cards and a few business cards. Very hard to get 2 cards into 1 slot at the moment, although I feel that it will break in quite nicely with some pocket time. The wallet does not close all the way right out of the bag, but that is to be expected as the leather is very stiff and durable feeling.

Overall at the moment: I think this will break in to be a very good wallet in a few weeks time, just have to give it that adjustment time to accept your cards and contour to your method of carry as well as the items in your wallet.

Ashland Leather Fat Herbie in Essex Natural(veg tan)
Initial Impressions: similar size to the SBL Large Bifold, but a little thinner. Leather is a clean, non marred, more soft-supple leather, buttery smooth and soft if you will. No Suede or visable or tactile "Nap" just a nice smooth piece of soft leather. Single piece bill compartment on the outside of the wallet, as opposed to the inside of the wallet, very nice touch, but not sure if there's an advantage to it, as the leather on the outside seems almost too floppy and textured on the inside to get money in or out... now the CXL brown version is better in this regard, as the outer bill compartment is a bit more stiff due to the chrome tanning or the cut, who knows. The CXL has an AMAZING smell, also just as smooth and buttery as the essex, but a little more "waxed feeling", definitely NOT a detriment.

Loading it up- same as above, but this wallet does not have the Pockets under the horizontal card slots like the SBL Large Bifold does, but pulls off the 4-single card slots pretty flawlessly. Nice and soft leather will accept more cards than the SBL does initially, but again, the leather is much more refined and supple than the saddleback leather.

Overall- I have had about 6 months ownership with the Ashland Leather Fat Herbies in Essex and CXL Brown, and have come to enjoy each wallet version for what its worth.... I love the patina developing on the essex and tend to use that one more for weekend ventures ,and the brown CXL for my work week just because its prettier and I LOVE the smell of the CXL. It too, shows some patina and wear, but not as drastically as the essex does. Overall, the Fat Herbies are a much more refined wallet, maybe not as "indestructable" as the saddleback leather, but I would honestly say is a great wallet for the price in either CXL or Essex.

My overall advise is:
If you are looking for a wallet that is large, and can carry a bunch of items, either will suit you fine, but if you are looking for a wallet to BREAK IN, and I do mean, BREAK IN, then saddleback might be your bag more than the Fat Herbie.
Personally, if Ashland Leather put another pocket under the horizontal card slots, I would pick ashland every day and twice on Sundays, but then again, having owned the herbies for about 6 months, I may be partial to those wallets, as I haven't spent a lot of time with the SBL

SBL- Indestructable feeling, tough feeling, excellent layout, and won't hurt the pocketbook as much as the herbie does.

Ashland- Super soft, undeniably durable, buttery smooth leather, MUCH more refined, and from what I can see, a higher quality leather and much higher finish quality, but you also pay the price for it, at almost double the cost of the SBL

I hope that this was at least somewhat helpful for those in the process of trying to decide, I know I will try my hardest to use the SBL as my daily driver for a few months,so I will check in later on down the road to give an update when I have at least as much pocket time on the SBL as I did with the Fat Herbie.

if you REALLY want to get into trouble with the wife or significant other, check out ashland's SHELL CORDOVAN herbie or other iterations of wallets in this fantastic leather... once you go Horween Shell, you'll NEVER go back.

good luck deciding!

Esav Benyamin

Apr 6, 2000
Thanks! Nice reviews on these wallets. They all cost enough to deserve this much thought before buying.
Dec 3, 2010
Late in commenting, but I had not seen the thread. I have been using a large Saddleback wallet for 3-4 years now, and agree with most of the comments in the review. Mine does have a full pigskin flap to hide some bills. No way are you going to break that thing in in a few weeks, a few months or really more like the better part of a year. Mine was initially so stiff and the external edges so sharp it would catch and make it very difficult to insert into or remove from my pocket. It still fits some pockets rather snugly. All in all it is a pickpocket's nightmare. The card slots will eventually stretch and hold 4-5 cards each. When and if I ever wear it out I will get another.